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College Hockey:
Welsh third-period goal caps rally as Union ties Quinnipiac

— On Friday night, Quinnipiac and Union skated to a 2-2 in their returns to conference play.

Last weekend, both offenses exploded as Union scored six on Michigan and Quinnipiac dropped four first period goals on Massachusetts. This week, both teams struggled to find rhythm in the first period.

Some of the early offensive woes for both teams could have been caused by the amount of missing players from both line charts. For Union, brothers Mat and Kyle Bodie took the night off with injuries, while Quinnipiac was without the injured Kellen Jones.

On the defensive end for Union, sophomore super goaltender Troy Grosenick was nowhere to be found on the line charts as the true freshman Colin Stevens got the call between the pipes.

Quinnipiac jumped on the board 4:23 into the middle period on a power play when Zach Tolkinen’s drive from the right point beat Stevens. Yuri Bouharevich fed Tolkinen at the near point, and, with enough traffic in front of the net, Stevens couldn’t react until the puck was already behind him.

The Bobcats extended their lead to 2-0 two minutes later on another power-play goal, this time from defenseman Zach Davies. Scott Zurevinski started the play in the neutral zone on the far side with Jeremy Langlois skating through the middle. Davies moved in on the right side and poked a rebound through the pads of Stevens for the two goal lead.

Union coach Rick Bennett wasted no time calling a timeout to regroup his team.

“I thought we were a very lazy hockey team for a period and a half, and that starts with me,” Bennett said. “I didn’t have these guys ready to go. I think they were still resting on last weekend, and I think sometimes you need a friendly reminder.”

The timeout turned out to be the turning point of the game, as the Dutchmen scored the final two goals of the game to tie the score.

“He was just trying to get us fired up,” said Union’s Jeremy Welsh. “We know we are a good team, and we know that when we want to play, we can play.”

Union cut the lead in half just four minutes after the timeout call by Bennett.

Kevin Sullivan made his way behind the net and created enough space to send a backhand feed in front of the net. There waiting for the pass was senior Brian Yanovitch, who sent the one-timer past the blocker of Quinnipiac goaltender Eric Hartzell.

Union tied the game 2:27 into the third period on harmless shot from the near corner by Welsh. Welsh took puck, spun around, and sent a wrister on net that looked to be a centering pass. Instead of a Union forward there to knock it home, it deflected off the stick blade of Quinnipiac’s Connor Jones and right through Hartzell’s five hole.

Welsh’s goal might not make highlight reels, but it is his 10th of the season.

“When he starts to be consistent, he is going to be a dominant player in college hockey,” Bennett noted. “When he is on, I think he is one of the best college hockey players in the country.”

Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold expressed mixed emotions following the game.

“There’s frustration that we let them back in the game, but on the flip-side, we were able to kill off a five-on-three power play and we were able to get a point. We could have come away with no points.”

In addition to Union’s five-on-three in the third period, Welsh also rang a pair of pucks off the iron.

On the night, Quinnipiac killed off all four of Union’s power plays, something that seldom happens for a Dutchmen squad that entered Hamden with a 26.9 percent success rate

Union, on the other hand, continues to collect points as they move on through their eight-game road series that won’t end until they return to Messa Rink on January 6th to take on Harvard.

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